New midsize models to be built in Tennessee.
GM is returning to the plant that launched Saturn, a different kind of car company. Its Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant has been out of commission for the past few years, but will eventually reopen as part of the contract terms the automaker has agreed to with the UAW.
Spring Hill Returns
What mid-size models will make it to Tennessee have not been confirmed, but that may include the Chevrolet Malibu, Buick Regal and Buick LaCrosse. Those sedans have found a home at plants in North America, but if demand for the next generation Malibu surges, this model might find a second home in Tennessee. Automotive News [subscription required] reports that a pair of crossovers — the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain — could be built there as well.
Another plant, located in Wentzville, Missouri, will receive a $380 million upgrade. That plant, which will continue to build full-sized Chevrolet and GMC vans will be joined by a mid-sized pickup truck, likely the same vehicle GM introduced in Thailand in March 2011. That vehicle was not initially slated to be sold in North America, but will replace the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon once GM closes its Shreveport, Louisiana, plant in June 2012.
The small to medium truck market has fared poorly in recent years as larger pickups offer comparable fuel efficiency, much more capacity and start at prices not too far about smaller trucks. Sales of the Colorado and Canyon are up sharply this year, but the segment is still dominated by the Toyota Tacoma.
The UAW says that GM agreed to continue building full size Chevy and GMC pickup trucks at its Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant when the next generation model arrives in 2013. That plant will receive $230 million in upgrades. A new compact may be built at an unspecified plant too, with Automotive News speculating that the model is the three-door Opel Astra which would be sold here as a Buick.
Out of Mexico
And in a sign that some jobs sent beyond the U.S. eventually do come back, GM has agreed to add hundreds of jobs to three plants in Michigan, positions it had planned for Mexico, but reversed course and agreed to hire here. Each of these changes are part of GM’s latest collective bargaining agreement with the UAW, a four-year pact that still needs to be voted upon by the rank and file.
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